Wrapping Cats, Playing Games, and Grasping Happiness

The “things” that contribute to happiness cannot be wrapped and tied with bows.

Ironically, these are the very things we take for granted.

How do you wrap a cat?  Um, you don't!
How do you wrap a cat?   Um, not very easily!

Around Christmas, marketers hope that we get caught up in the deftly executed ad campaigns. Some unwittingly fall into the trap of overindulging and overspending. Others turn themselves inside out to find the perfect gift to make loved ones happy.

How silly – happiness can’t be purchased. It’s in our heads (and hearts.)

We have a budget for Christmas, and our kids’ requests often fall outside of that budget. So, instead of their dream gift, they get a lesson in handling disappointment. Sometimes, though, they are pleasantly surprised.

We let our kids each pick a gift to open early. My older son tore through the paper on the box and tossed the packing material aside. He examined the bubble-wrapped object in his hand and said, “Oh. It’s an ornament.”

He thought we got him a new phone. He’s twelve- and delusional, it seems.

My younger son ripped the paper from his box and squealed with delight when he saw the game Apples to Apples. “How did you guys know? I love this game!”

Now, that reaction made me smile. A couple months ago, he begged me to buy that game for him because he’d played it at school. I listened (and surprisingly, remembered.)

My kids ‘ reactions illustrate how expectations can lead to disappointment when actuality doesn’t live up to our anticipation. Sure, we could go into debt and “wow” my older son with a phone, but I think the greater gift is to learn true happiness can’t be found inside a box under the tree.

Some people never learn this and spend their lives filling the void with “things.”

On Sunday evening, we played Apples to Apples as a family. Even my older son (who had proclaimed the game as “stupid”) eventually joined in. We spent time together- interacting and laughing. We had fun.

We found happiness in each other’s company.

For those who celebrate Christmas – I wish you a merry one. For those who do not – I wish you happiness. “See” you after the new year 🙂


38 thoughts on “Wrapping Cats, Playing Games, and Grasping Happiness

  1. suzicate December 23, 2014 / 5:33 AM

    Good job Mom and Dad!
    The void can never be filled with things though some people never learn that.
    Merry Christmas!

    • jannatwrites December 23, 2014 / 9:53 AM

      Well, my older son is getting a game of his own, so maybe we’ll be redeemed a bit, haha! I do think less can be more. I hope you have a merry Christmas too, Suzicate!

  2. nrhatch December 23, 2014 / 6:59 AM

    Apples to Apples is a FUN game ~ that proves that the best match is in the eye of the beholder. Glad your older son joined in and enjoyed some laughs. And GO YOU for remembering.

    Have a Cool Yule!

    • jannatwrites December 23, 2014 / 9:57 AM

      I liked the game, Nancy. We played the Junior version but I had to laugh when my older son said he wanted the one that was twelve and up. I’m sure we’ll be playing it again, soon. My yule will be cool – today is the last day I’m working until January 2nd 🙂 Hope yours is “cool” as well!

      • nrhatch December 23, 2014 / 1:18 PM

        Yay! Enjoy your time off. We’re going to kick back and relax and play games. Hope you can do the same.

        • jannatwrites December 23, 2014 / 1:25 PM

          Sounds like fun! I’m going to experiment with some baking, do some writing (I hope) and catch up with my best friend who is coming to visit for a few days after Christmas.

        • nrhatch December 23, 2014 / 2:07 PM

          Awesome! Glad your best friend will be there for a visit.

  3. Sean December 23, 2014 / 8:00 AM

    Oooooohhhhhhh twinkies 🙂 I think your cat is saying to stay away from them. I’m sure your son just doesn’t want a cell phone but more than likely a smartphone. The wonderful grip of society that it has on people. Start them young and they will be slaves to what they know. Later in life when he is hanging the ornaments on his own tree, he will remember those moments and cherish them. I’m glad that your youngest squealed with delight in his present. I’m sure your oldest will find a few things under the tree that he will like. May not admit it but he’ll like it. Take care and have a Merry Christmas.

    • jannatwrites December 23, 2014 / 9:59 AM

      Of course that would be the thing you notice from the photo, Sean! That was my younger son’s gift to my husband. Of course my older son wants a smartphone… some Samsung Mega something-or-another. I do hope one day they do appreciate the things they may not care for so much now. Time will tell, I suppose.

  4. Carol Ann Hoel December 23, 2014 / 10:03 AM

    You are wise not to go into debt for things that perish. May the Lord of Christmas fill our hearts with true appreciation for what really matters more than things we want and wait for. We adults must wait for future blessings just like our children. What we already have is of greater value. And…The best is yet… Merry Christmas and blessings to you and yours…

  5. joannesisco December 23, 2014 / 10:38 AM

    I have nothing wise or witty to add following this post. I think you nailed it 🙂

    • jannatwrites December 24, 2014 / 12:52 AM

      Nancy’s post was a good one. I really liked the video, too. Have a wonderful Christmas and New Year, Emilio!

      • Emilio Pasquale December 30, 2014 / 3:58 PM

        Congratulations to you. I have just been notified that you were one of the top 5 commenters on my blog this past year. There is no prize being offered. Sorry!

        • jannatwrites December 31, 2014 / 12:26 AM

          Aw, thanks, Emilio! Your recognition is prize enough 🙂

  6. Widdershins December 23, 2014 / 7:57 PM

    Merry Christmas … see ya next year. 😀

    • jannatwrites December 24, 2014 / 12:55 AM

      You have a nice Christmas, too, Widdershins!

  7. Connor Rickett December 24, 2014 / 6:30 PM

    Material things break. Learning to appreciate what you’ve got is forever. Plus, come on, what’s a 12-year-old need a phone for? That’s the age when the greatest gift anyone can give us is to make it just a little harder to broadcast our opinions widely and easily.

    • jannatwrites December 27, 2014 / 2:57 PM

      Well, he already does have a phone that he bought used on eBay a few months ago. (He pays for his phone usage as well.) This is part of the problem. There is no good reason why that phone should be replaced.

      I tried to leave a couple comments on your site but it didn’t like me. Not sure if you’ll see this, but I read your series of 10 posts on Ways Not To Suck… here is what I was going to say: Nice series! Had to laugh at this one you ended up with. The good thing about sucking is that eventually we do some progress, well… if we’re lucky.
      A few posts back, I liked your dad’s comment about knowing the wrong thing as rarely being difficult. So true. And nice observation about the problems in the world… it would be nice if we could stop the half that should be doing nothing and motivate the other half to jump in 🙂

      • Connor Rickett December 27, 2014 / 5:03 PM

        Thanks, I wondered why you’d abandoned me =P.

        I don’t understand why the comment system doesn’t like some people. It’s supposed be able to let people log in as anything . . . I mean, you shouldn’t even have to sign in if you’re logged into WP. Or Facebook. Or Google. I’ll tackle it again when I get the rest of the site cleaned up. Probably some small button somewhere that needs to be unchecked.

        • jannatwrites December 31, 2014 / 12:16 AM

          I tried again and was able to comment. Weird. It was probably my error… I find a way to mess up the simplest things! Anywho, hope you have a happy new year, Connor!

        • Connor Rickett December 31, 2014 / 4:46 PM

          We’ll go ahead and blame you. I mean, sure, 99% of the time, if something doesn’t work on my blog, it’s because I broke it, but this time it was toooootallly you. Happy New Year to you too Janna!

        • jannatwrites January 1, 2015 / 12:55 AM

          Thanks, Connor! It’s not you, it’s me 🙂 Happy new year!

  8. pattisj December 25, 2014 / 11:24 PM

    Yay for family time!


    • jannatwrites December 27, 2014 / 2:57 PM

      Yes, it doesn’t happen often when we can all be together.

  9. Mia Hayson December 27, 2014 / 2:35 PM

    What a sweet post! You’re right of course, it’s that warm fuzzy feeling that being with family and friends provides that is important over the holidays.

    • jannatwrites December 27, 2014 / 2:58 PM

      Thanks for stopping by, Mia! Yes, the warm, fuzzy feeling is much better than any object in a box- so glad you see that, too 🙂

  10. philosophermouseofthehedge December 29, 2014 / 1:24 PM

    Oh, does this bring back memories. We always had a very modest Christmas. Dad insisted all the bills be paid before the new year – we rarely charged things. (If you don’t have the money, don’t buy it. Save until you do) When I started working, I shopped with a list and budget in Oct and paid it all off by Christmas. Simple. And the new year felt so much better starting out that way!
    Please consider posting this again next year. It’s such a good post

    • jannatwrites December 31, 2014 / 12:21 AM

      Thanks so much for reading, Phil! I’m glad the post resonated with you. I do think it’s good practice to not spend more than we have. Financial freedom is priceless 🙂

      • philosophermouseofthehedge December 31, 2014 / 9:09 AM

        Being happy with what you have seems to be rarely celebrated these days. Guess those in charge feel shopping is the only hope for the economy. Hope your New Year’s night is very cool ( and not too cold)

        • jannatwrites January 1, 2015 / 12:53 AM

          Haha, true, Phil. It’s so much more rewarding to focus on our haves than have nots. It was a cool and chilly day – it snowed all day. I measured 8 inches earlier this evening… will have to see what’s waiting in the morning after I catch a few hours of sleep!

  11. Debbie December 30, 2014 / 9:09 AM

    Well done, mom and dad! The sooner kids learn that money doesn’t buy happiness, the better they’ll be able to live in our world. Sure, it’s probably easier to be “happy” if one isn’t being hounded by bill-collectors, but the sad number of suicides among the amazingly well-heeled speaks a sad tale. Hope your Christmas was splendid — now, on to 2015! (Did you get SNOW?!?)

    • jannatwrites December 31, 2014 / 12:25 AM

      Thanks, Debbie! My kids are more into material things than I’d like… it seems they aren’t grasping the concept yet. I pray as they get older, they will absorb more. Christmas was quiet and peaceful here – I hope you had a nice Christmas with your son! We haven’t had snow yet, but there is a good chance we’ll get some tomorrow. I hope so. I’ve got my camera ready 🙂

  12. Björn Rudberg (brudberg) January 5, 2015 / 6:46 AM

    Getting everything you point at will pave the road for bigger disappointments .. better to handle them in small scale.. + a phone is just the entry point to even more costs.. Happy new year.

    • jannatwrites January 7, 2015 / 12:15 AM

      I think even as adults, it’s good to not get everything. I hesitate to say that one day he will thank me… but maybe he will at least understand 🙂 Happy new year to you, too, Bjorn!

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